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Published on November 2nd, 2013 | by Jonathan Appleton

Gatiss Prepares for Bad Fan Reaction to “Adventure”

Mark Gatiss has revealed he’s prepared for a negative reaction to An Adventure in Space and Time when the special one-off drama on the origins of Doctor Who airs later this month.

Writing Doctor Who, you don’t give a monkey’s [about giving diehard fans what they want]. You write it for your audience, not for the people who will watch it anyway.

I don’t mean to sound contemptible at all – I’m a fan so there are a lot of things that I want to nod to or embrace – but you can’t be ruled by that. Here, this is holy writ; they’re real people.

Stressing that the film is a drama rather than a documentary, Gatiss has previously stated that key players Donald Wilson and David Whitaker will not appear and that he’s “totally prepared for howls of protest.”

Dramatising real events is always something of a minefield, with the need to simplify events and depict composite characters to satisfy the needs of plot and limited screen time.

What do you think? Are you prepared to overlook some inaccuracies in the name of a good drama? Or should facts always come first?

(Via Entertainmentwise.)


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About the Author


has watched Doctor Who since those great big spiders did for Jon Pertwee, and it's way too late to stop now. When he's not at his job working for a charity he spends his time following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and wondering why it took thirty years too long for Doctor Who action figures to come along. Currently listening to: The Fifth Doctor Box Set. By, it were a crowded old TARDIS in them days...

17 Responses to Gatiss Prepares for Bad Fan Reaction to “Adventure”

  1. avatar DonnaM says:

    My subject is history and I’m the world’s worst at watching historical drama because I can’t stop myself nit-picking. When you’re that passionate about something, every little inaccuracy is an issue.

    However, I’m not unaware of why it’s done, and if it sparks an interest in the casual audience, inspires people to go and dig out the facts for themselves, shouldn’t I be grateful? It’s a trade-off and I’ve never fully resolved it in my own head.

    Top marks to Mr Gatiss for his honesty! I’ll watch his fictionalised account for what it is; and before anyone can howl in protest against “not giving a monkeys” about what the die-hards say – I’m glad of it! We’re not the whole audience and to keep the show on TV the casual viewers have to be kept on board. If the price for that is monkeying about with canon occasionally, I’ll happily pay it!

  2. avatar GallifreyanFallenAngel says:

    What’s he going to do, reveal the Doctor’s name? :P

    • avatar anonymous says:

      Well, that would NOT be historically accurate… ;)

  3. avatar McCoy says:

    He’s an experienced writer in Doctor Who now; if he’s learned nothing else, it will be to completely ignore the over the top gnashing of rabid fandom teeth!

  4. avatar Al says:

    Anyone who complains that Gatiss doesn’t get every detail right needs to see the new series Reign, which is supposed to be about the early life of Mary Queen of Scots yet pretty much abandons all facts. That is how far historical films can go away from the actual history. Gatiss will do justice to the facts.

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      Yep, that’s the kind of series the historian in me won’t touch with a barge-pole!

      • avatar Bob James says:

        But none of that matters because the cast is filled with beautiful people, and is very sexy. Almost like a CW show. Wait, it IS a CW show!

  5. avatar Koloth says:

    Looking at the photos released so far I dont think he has anything to worry about. Unless it uncovers William Hartnell was in Savilles gang then I may have some criticism.

  6. avatar Christine says:

    I just wish for good drama and if that means certain facts and/or people are omitted, that’s fine with me. The story is all. I can read up on the facts in quite a few books.

  7. avatar BOJAY says:

    He’s a smart man, and is well aware of experiencing the rabid savaging that comes from some quarters of Who fandom. I’m still convinced that it remains a very loud, vocal minority, but when the ingrates present begin to hold forth, it always does seem that they can’t express their opinions without tearing things down and insulting people. The people who don’t make or create anything being rude and disrespectful towards those who work hard and do. It kind of reminds me of a small contingent of Cassandra’s, demanding “moisturize me!”, or the infant demanding to be fed, who’ll probably bite mum’s nipples off. Perhaps civility is also now “Time Locked”? I am really glad that this film was made, and that Mark Gatiss was the mind behind it. I’m looking forward to seeing it. If it doesn’t ring all the bells for me for any reason, I won’t be insulting Mark, or come to demand his head. If it turns out that he is the next showrunner in training, at least he already knows the score, and is more than ready to say “Piss Off” to the uncivilized ingrates, small group (in more ways than one) that they thankfully, are.

  8. avatar Andy says:

    I am just glad that the 50th anniversary has been noted by a specially commisioned programme like this, I am sure Mr Gatiss will provide an excellent piece of television. Roll on the transmission, can’t wait.

  9. avatar Colin says:

    It takes someone who knows the show as well as Gatiss to know what’s acceptable for dramatic purposes, and what’s not. His depth of knowledge will come through, I think, in his ability to distill the events down to the essence of what the audience needs to know and understand. I have high hopes that while the details may be fudged a little, the impression he leaves us of the show’s origins will be accurate. And that’s good enough for me. :)

  10. avatar Paul May says:

    JNT catered to the rabid fan base and look what happened….

    • avatar Bob James says:

      JN-T did indeed attempt to pander and cater to the “fanbase”, and what resulted was that same “fanbase” hurling all sorts of abuse at him, calling for his termination, and the show, lacking in appeal to a wider audience, was cancelled. RTD and Steven Moffat have stuck to their convictions, stayed the courses they set, and had the “fanbase” hurl abuse at them, sometimes also calling for their termination. And Doctor Who is currently in the midst of its greatest worldwide, global success ever. At least the showrunners have learned. As for the “fanbase”, well, meet the new “fanbase”, same as the old “fanbase”.

      • avatar Ian says:

        A very “history is written by the winners” version of reality there. JNT Who was doing just fine – better overnights than the modern show anyway! – until Grade stuck the boot in for reasons that had zero to do with “lacking appeal to a wider audience” and everything to do with cost-cutting. After that debacle the show was doomed no matter what it did for the next 4 years because the BBC had given up on it. Yet JNT, along with Cartmel, still stuck to his guns and made a better show than Moffat has managed for several years, just without the song and dance hype machine to back it up.

  11. avatar Bob James says:

    That is just complete nonsense. Mental. Your reference to and citing “overnights” being better then is stone age thinking, and carries no considerable comparison to how final viewing figures are compiled today. It’s been said many times before, but overnights are no longer the sole barometer of a show’s health. At the end of the initial run, there was no wider appeal, virtually no audience beyond a contentious fanbase. Doctor Who did not have the means to reach the audience that has access to it now, and to even suggest that the show was in a healthier state then, Cartmel’s considerable contribution not withstanding, is again, nonsense. You don’t just live on an island, Ian, you also apparently think like you do.

  12. avatar Joyce says:

    I’m sorry but Gatiss is a grade A twonk. An idiot fan who’s made good.

    Personally I don’t care too much about the detail, but I do care about the writing, the direction and the acting. Yes, I find it strange not to include certain people but I also realise this is a one-off. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s typical of a Gatiss Who script then it’s a shame for us all. If, however, he’s pulled the rabbit from the hat then applause will be due.

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